Williams Fashion Center (aka Home of Lunch on Limoges)
Dining at Lunch on Limoges, named one of Tampa Bay's Top 25 Iconic Restaurants of 2009, is akin to stepping back in time. The restaurant is located in Dade City, a tiny, historic town about 50 miles northeast of Tampa. The building is a former clothing and dry goods store that has been in owner Phil Williams' family since 1908 (which now still offers women's boutique clothing, kitschy home decor, retro toys and small gift items for sale). According to a 1995 article in Southern Living Magazine, his partner Skip Mize built a kitchen and opened Lunch on Limoges in a section of the store which was formerly the men's department in 1979. The atmosphere is sparkly and fun, waitresses wear retro starched white uniforms, and Broadway tunes play softly in the background. Oh...and did I mention the food is delicious?
My mom, who grew up in the area, introduced me to this place a couple of years ago. It's a haul from Tampa, but I became re-acquainted/enchanted when I met a Pasco County pal there for lunch a few weeks ago. I was convinced that my Super-Dawg would love it for the retro feel and creative, rib-sticking cuisine, so I cajoled him into driving me back up to Dade City for a Valentine's Day weekend lunch...and he was not disappointed.
The Chalkboard Menu Arrives (Yay!)
Every meal begins with a basket of LoL's signature muffins with the fruit-infused butter of the day (UD's not wearing lavender...I took this shot when I went with Rhonda a few weeks ago). It's no wonder Lunch on Limoges is so stingy with the recipe for these little bites of heaven...they are absolute nirvana.
Next, LoL's phenomenal Crunchy Fried Eggplant with Remoulade Sauce (unexpected, but the sauce really works). It's the simply the best fried eggplant I've ever had...hands down. It is truly crunchy on the outside and the eggplant is tender and sweet without a hint of the bitterness you sometimes experience with it.
Rhonda and I both had the Toasted Tarragon Chicken Salad Croissant with melted swiss and a large spear of tender steamed broccoli sandwiched in on our recent trip, and it may be the best chicken salad sandwich of ANY variety I've ever tasted.
For UD's and my V-Day weekend, I decided to try LoL's signature dish: Pecan Chicken. Okay...I'm not usually a fan of chicken breast, but this was really good (although I couldn't quite shake the feeling that it needed a sauce of some kind...but maybe that's because I usually do find chicken breast to be intrinsically unexciting). It was a fat, juicy, boneless/skinless chicken breast...breaded, fried, topped with toasted pecans, and drizzled with pecan butter. The entree was served with tasty garlic smashed red potatoes and the veggie of the day (a bona fide southern broccoli casserole that made my Tennessee heart sing!).
Underdog had a Pork Schnitzel with Capers and Mushrooms, which he pronounced to be sublime.
While choosing a dessert was tough...
...we ultimately decided to share Homemade Apple Pie with Cream Cheese and Craisins in the filling. It was to die for...and UD deemed it "the best apple pie I've ever put in my mouth", despite his initial disappointment at the unavailability of a vanilla ice cream topper.
Such a sweet, fun meal...after muffins, eggplant appetizer, two hefty entrees, a substantial dessert, 3 glasses of chardonnay and 2 beers, we left with our bellies pleasantly full of kicked-up comfort food for $65.
My blog entries contain the unmitigated, and sometimes unforgiving, dining truths and perceptions I experience as an ordinary restaurant patron. Every meal I post about has been fully paid for by one of the participating members of my personal dining party. I do not engage in the gratis blogger freebie dining events I'm constantly invited to attend and never will. If I ooze font-like love for a restaurant in my blog, it's because they totally earned it…not because they gave me free food or knew I was going to share the experience on the internet.